Hundreds of leatherwomen and men, lesbians and gays, heterosexuals, and bisexuals, bears, dominatrices and their submissives, and others in the leather/BDSM community, including hosts of titleholders, gathered with enthusiasm and expectation for Philadelphia's first annual Leather Pride Night (http://plpn.org), produced by current Ms. Mid-Atlantic Leather Cowboi Jen, on November 7. LPN took place at the Voyeur Club, formerly the Pure Nightclub, formerly the Two-Four, in the heart of the "Gayborhood," a stone's throw from the Bike Stop, the leather bar, and Woody's and other bars; Giovanni's Room, the venerable LGBT bookstore; accommodations Uncle's Upstairs Inn and Alexander Inn; and numerous fine restaurants. The stated mission of LPN was "to celebrate the Philadelphia area pansexual leather and BDSM communities, focusing on the support of charitable organizations," and the centerpiece of the historic event was a lively benefit auction, with barker par excellence Jo Arnone presiding. There was a silent auction as well. My roles here were, as Mr. Fire Island Leather 2001, to present items at the live auction and to entertain, and as editor, to cover the proceedings for Q News.
Worthy beneficiaries of the thousands of dollars raised were the Leather Archives & Museum, based in Chicago, with artifacts of leather and BDSM history, especially ones of local interest, displayed, in its 'Road Show,' by Executive Director Rick Storer; the Leather Heart Foundation, which "provide[s] financial assistance to members of the community during periods of unusual hardship;" and the By Grace of George Fund, founded by Jo Arnone to assist community members, on limited incomes, in caring for their pets.
Auction items included leather, bondage and fantasy equipment and clothing; gift baskets and gift certificates; tickets to leather events; books; and photos and other artwork. Tireless Ms. Philadelphia Leather 2000 Joann and Ms. New Jersey Leather 2010 Morgaine were among those helping, backstage, to coordinate the auction. The items I presented before the bidders were a handsome black fantasy sword, donated by Leather Heart and MasT's Lord Brick, and a hefty wooden bondage chair, donated by Goddess Lakshimi. Numerous items of clothing and accoutrements were contributed by Philadelphia's Passional Boutique, modeled by Cowboi Jen, and auctioned directly off the brave woman's body.
Gilbert "Mister Marcus" Hernandez, longtime leather columnist for San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter, International Mr. Leather contest judge, and Emperor I of San Francisco, who passed away last month, was remembered with a tribute and a moment of silence. A 'million dollar heart' award was given to our very much alive auctioneer, Jo Arnone, by the Leather Heart Foundation, in gratitude for the funds she has helped to raise for charity.
Performers from the Peek-a-Boo Revue, Philadelphia's resident 'neo burlesque' show, danced, sang and stripped; boy kevin-bound in ropes by LPN Consultant and Entertainment Coordinator LaRubia, from New York, who was joined here by Fire Island's Grove Hotel's Assistant Manager Wendy Lewis-shared his colorful flagging; and, at the tail end of the evening, I sang "This Nearly Was Mine" and "Some Enchanted Evening," from "South Pacific." International Ms. Leather 1996 Jill Carter served as M.C.
Ms. Max Rulz, from Maryland, was LPN's official, and exclusive photographer. Philadelphia Gay News leather columnist Jim Kiley-Zufelt, who wrote an advance piece about the event, was also in attendance. The following day, vendors displayed and demonstrated their wares at a leather flea market, at the Comfort Inn at Philadelphia International Airport, in Essington PA.
If this first LPN program started late and ran long, such kinks, as it were, can be ironed out in subsequent endeavors. I would also urge, although I know that some will not agree, that, in the future, organizers consider not assigning exclusive rights to one photographer, no matter how gifted, and permit press, such as leather community allies PGN and Q News, to photograph the event as well.